Raising Men: 100 Years of the Boy Scouts of America

“On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country, to obey the scout law, to help other people at all times, and to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.”

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These are the words of the Boy Scout oath. Recited at scout meetings across the nation, every week for the past 100 years, this is an important moment when boys aged 10 to 13 raise their right hands and promise to serve both God and country. I was a scout myself and believe that the Boy Scouts is the only place where young men can practice becoming adults.

The Boy Scouts of America teach independence, self-reliance, and teamwork — all while having fun. If a young man chooses to do so, he can rise up through the ranks, along the way learning principles that he can apply throughout his life. He may not be good enough to play in a sport (beyond sitting on the bench), but as a scout he is part of a team, and he contributes to everyone’s success.

The first time I brushed my teeth without being told to do so by my mother was at scout camp. I was eleven years old. The senior patrol leader was Richie Crocco, a big 16-year-old guy who shaved. Everyone knew you didn’t mess with Richie. He woke the whole troop up at 6:30 a.m. to march us down to the latrine so we could wash up, brush our teeth, and comb our hair in time to return for morning flag raising 15 minutes later. Everybody went to latrine, no questions asked. When I saw Richie drag a kid out of his bunk and leave him in the middle of the campsite, I felt the fear of God.

God bless Richie Crocco. After six days, I had learned the routine, and when I returned home from camp, my mother was amazed at my new habits. She never had to tell me again to brush my teeth.

There aren’t many places where good character is ingrained in a young man. In addition to the scout oath, which we said at every meeting, we also recited the scout law: “A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.”

Once during a motivational talk to a crowd of about 250, I was asked, “What do you look for in a salesman?” Without realizing it, I started to say, “I look for a person who is trustworthy, loyal, helpful . . .” Some wise guy in the front row cracked, “What are you looking for? A Boy Scout?” I looked at him squarely and replied, “Why would you settle for anyone else to represent your company?”

We should all aspire to keep the promises made in the scout oath. Having salespeople who exemplify these qualities would bring any business owner peace of mind because those in sales are the face of the company. They are out in the field day after day representing the organization.


Another great thing happens in Boy Scouts. Before a youth advances in rank — completing the qualifications to move up from Tenderfoot to Second Class, then First Class, Star, Life, and Eagle — he has to sit down with the head of the troop committee and the scout master or assistant scout master and have what used to be called a Board of Review. (Today it’s known as a Personal Growth and Development Conference, but I prefer “Board of Review” because it sounds less intimidating.) The benefit of this evaluation is that the boy is asked, “Since the last time you advanced, how have you lived up to the scout oath and all the principles in the scout law?” He actually has to reflect upon the promises he has made week after week as a scout and then evaluate whether he has lived up to those promises.

The demand of such self-examination at so young an age is rare in this culture. Nowadays, no one is told he has failed; no one is asked to look in the mirror and find himself wanting. Success in the Boy Scouts means that, at every step along the way to the rank of Eagle Scout, a young man has to answer the question, “Am I doing the job?”

Three cheers and congratulations to the Boy Scouts of America on 100 years of helping to raise our young men into adulthood. And thanks, too, to the countless good men who dedicate their time and resources to help train the future fathers and leaders of America.


  • Chuck Piola

    Chuck Piola is a nationally recognized speaker, sales consultant, and sales trainer. Visit his Web site to learn more, to submit a question, or to suggest a topic.

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